The best travel insurance policies and providers
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Like most insurance, it’s easy to dismiss the value of travel insurance — until you need it. Of course, by then it’s too late. The purpose of this post isn’t to determine whether you should purchase travel insurance — that depends on factors such as your destination, planned activities, medical history and the extent to which you’re already covered. Instead, I’ll look at some of the top travel insurance providers and policies.
Generally, travel insurance has two prongs: travel protection and medical coverage. As such, travel insurance can supplement the travel protections offered by select premium credit cards and/or the medical coverage provided by your personal health insurance.
Of course, in the age of coronavirus, the question is if travel insurance covers pandemics. In most cases, there is language in policies that specifically state pandemics and epidemics may not be covered. So always check the terms carefully before making a purchase, or buy the optional Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) add-on that’s available for many policies. Though you’ll pay more for that sort of coverage, you can cancel your trip for any reason and — depending on the terms — get 50% to 75% of your trip costs back.
In this guide, I’ll introduce some policies from top travel insurance providers, but I can’t tell you which policy or provider is the absolute best. That will depend on your wants and needs for a particular trip. Let’s get started.
The best travel insurance providers
For this guide, I selected providers that generally receive a positive rating from TPG Lounge members, provide adequate details about their policies and claims process online, are generally well-rated online and offer policies to residents of most U.S. states.
Here’s a table with a quick overview of nine of the best travel insurance providers:
|Providers||Type||Preexisting conditions||Adventure sports coverage||Quote for a one-week trip to Australia (basic/comprehensive)|
|AIG Travel Guard||Single trip (other plans available over the phone)||Waived under set conditions||Can be added to some policies||$63/$115|
|Allianz Travel Insurance||Single trip or annual plan for multiple trips||Waived under set conditions||No||$76/$143|
|American Express Travel Insurance||Single trip — sold as package or build-your-own||Waived under set conditions||No, but a few exclusions||$59/$170|
|GeoBlue||Only medical. For a single trip, multiple trips or long term||Covered by most policies||No||$10/$19|
|IMG Global||Single trip or multiple trips (travel insurance and travel medical insurance options offered)||Waived under set conditions for travel insurance; covered but capped for single-trip travel medical insurance||Included on some policies, can be added to some policies||$11/$65|
|Travel Insured International||Single trip||Waived under set conditions||No||$41/$129|
|Travelex Insurance||Single trip||Waived under set conditions||Can be added to some policies||$61/$80|
|Seven Corners||Single trip or annual plan for multiple trips||Waived under set conditions||No||$44/$57|
|World Nomads||Single trip plans||Not covered for most benefits and no waiver offered||Yes, on one plan||$60/$96|
Now, let’s take a look at each of the nine providers in more detail. For each provider, I priced out a single-trip policy for a $2,000 one-week vacation to Australia on June 14-21, 2020. If the provider offers multi-trip annual plans, I also priced out an annual plan starting on May 1. I used my actual age (34) and state of residence (Florida) when obtaining quotes, so you may see a different price — or even additional policies since not all policies are offered to Florida residents — when you obtain a quote.
AIG Travel Guard receives many positive reviews from readers in the TPG Lounge who have filed claims with the company. AIG offers three plans online, which you can compare side-by-side and examine sample policies. Here are three plans for my trip to Australia in June:
Travel Guard offers numerous other policies — some of which cover multiple trips and/or adventure sports — but you must call to obtain a quote and information for these policies.
Normally, you won’t be covered for any loss or expense incurred as the result of a preexisting medical condition that existed within 180 days of the coverage effective date. However, the preexisting-medical-condition exclusion can be waived for some plans. For the Gold single-trip plan, the exclusion can be waived if the following conditions are met:
- The plan is purchased within 15 days of initial trip payment.
- The amount of coverage purchased equals all prepaid nonrefundable payments or deposits applicable to the trip at the time of purchase and the costs of any subsequent arrangements added to the same trip are insured within 15 days of the date of payment or deposit for any subsequent trip arrangements.
- The insured is medically able to travel when this plan cost is paid.
- The trip cost doesn’t exceed $100,000 per person (only applicable to trip cancellation/interruption).
The Gold and Silver single-trip plans cover children under 18 at no additional cost.
- The Platinum and Gold plans allow you to purchase an add-on that lets you cancel your trip for any reason — but you’ll only get 50% of your insured trip cost back.
- Travel Guard generally has fewer exclusions than many of the other providers. For example, the adventure activities that are excluded are relatively limited.
Purchase your policy here: AIG Travel Guard
Allianz is one of the best-regarded providers in the TPG Lounge. Many readers found the claim process reasonable. Allianz offers many plans, including the following single-trip plans for my proposed trip to Australia in June:
If you travel frequently, it may make sense to purchase an annual multi-trip plan. For this plan, all of the maximum coverage amounts in the table below are per trip except for the trip cancellation and trip interruption, which are per travel insurance plan. And the travel-delay protection provides up to $200 in reimbursement per day when you’re delayed by six hours or longer. All trips must be 45 days or less.
Most Allianz travel insurance plans will cover preexisting medical conditions that existed within 120 days before and including the purchase date of the policy if you meet particular requirements. For the OneTrip Prime plan, these requirements are as follows:
- Your policy was purchased within 14 days of the date of the first trip payment/deposit or your trip was purchased during the coverage period.
- You were a U.S. resident when the policy was purchased.
Adding a second adult to most policies doubles the price. However, if you are traveling with a larger family and all live within one household, you’ll likely come out ahead by insuring all travelers on one plan. Allianz offers the AllTrips Premier policy that costs $450 for a year of travel insurance regardless of how many family members you insure. Interestingly, a single-trip plan for two adults costs more than a single-trip plan for two adults and a child (given the same trip cost).
- Allianz offers reasonably priced annual policies for independent travelers and families that take multiple trips of 45 days or less per year.
- The OneTrip Premier and OneTrip Prime policies provide the option to receive a flat amount of reimbursement without receipts for trip delay and baggage delay claims. Or, of course, you can submit receipts to get up to the maximum reimbursement.
- For Emergency Transportation Coverage, you or someone on your behalf must contact Allianz and Allianz must then make all transportation arrangements in advance. However, all of the OneTrip and AllTrips policies provide an option if you aren’t able to contact Allianz: Allianz will pay up to what it would have paid if it had made the arrangements.
Purchase your policy here: Allianz Travel Insurance
American Express Travel Insurance offers four different package plans as well as a build-your-own coverage option. You don’t have to be an American Express cardholder to purchase this insurance. Here are the four package options for my sample weeklong trip to Australia. Unlike some other insurances, Amex doesn’t ask where you’re traveling.
Amex’s build-your-own coverage plan is unique in that you can purchase just the coverage you need. For most types of coverage, you can even select the coverage amount that works best for you.
The prices for the packages and the build-your-own plan don’t increase for longer trips as long as the trip cost remains constant. However, the emergency medical and dental benefit only covers your first 60 days of travel.
Normally, you won’t be covered for any loss incurred because of a preexisting medical condition that existed within 90 days of the coverage effective date. However, this preexisting-condition exclusion can be waived if you meet both of the following requirements:
- You must be medically able to travel at the time the policy premium is paid.
- The premium under the policy is paid within 14 days of making the first covered trip deposit.
No discount is given for children or families.
- Amex’s build-your-own coverage option allows you to purchase — and pay for — only the coverage you need.
- Coverage on long trips doesn’t cost more than short trips, making this ideal for extended trips. However, the emergency medical and dental benefit only covers your first 60 days of travel.
- American Express Travel Insurance can protect travel expenses paid for with Amex Membership Rewards points in the Pay with Points program (as well as travel expenses paid for with cash, debit or credit).
- American Express Travel Insurance doesn’t explicitly exclude most adventure sports. So this policy may be a good choice if you participate in adventure sports that are normally excluded by other providers.
Purchase your policy here: American Express Travel Insurance
GeoBlue is different from most of the other providers described in this piece because it only provides medical insurance for use while traveling. There are many different policies. Some require you to have primary health insurance in the United States (although it doesn’t need to be provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield) and some only provide coverage outside the United States.
Two single-trip plans cover travel for six months or less. The Voyager Choice policy provides coverage (including medical services and medical evacuation for preexisting conditions) to travelers who are 84 or younger and have primary health insurance.
The Voyager Essential policy provides coverage (including medical evacuation for preexisting conditions) to travelers who are 74 or younger, regardless of whether they have primary health insurance.
Two multi-trip plans cover trips of up to 70 days each for one year. Both policies provide coverage (including medical services and medical evacuation for preexisting conditions) to travelers who have primary health insurance.
On the single-trip plans, children cost less than adults but otherwise there’s no discount for adding multiple people on your plan. However, on multi-trip plans, the second person added to the plan is less expensive, regardless of whether they are an adult or a child. For multi-trip plans, the third person costs more to add than the second person, but there’s no additional cost to add a fourth person or more.
- GeoBlue can be an excellent option if you’re mainly concerned about the medical side of travel insurance. You may only need medical travel insurance if you already have travel protections such as trip delay and baggage delay through purchasing your travel expenses with a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
- GeoBlue provides single trip, multi-trip and long-term medical travel insurance policies for many different types of travel.
- GeoBlue’s Voyager Choice, Trekker Choice and Trekker Essential policies all cover medical services and medical evacuation for preexisting conditions.
Purchase your policy here: GeoBlue
IMG Global offers various travel medical insurance policies for travelers, as well as travel insurance policies. For a single trip of 90 days or less, there are three policy types available for vacation or holiday travelers. Although you must enter your gender, males and females received the same quote for my one-week search.
You can purchase an annual multi-trip travel medical insurance plan that covers trips up to 30 or 45 days. You can add an adventure sports rider and/or evacuation plus rider to either plan.
Most plans cover preexisting conditions under set conditions or up to certain amounts. For the travel insurance plan shown above, preexisting conditions can be covered if you purchase the insurance within a set time of your first or final trip payment and if you are not disabled from travel when you make the payment. For the travel medical insurance plans shown above, preexisting conditions are covered for travelers under 70, but the coverage is capped, based on your age.
All of the policies double in cost when a second adult is added, but adding one or more children isn’t as straightforward. The travel medical insurance policies increase in cost when a child is added, but the cost doesn’t quite double. And the cost of the travel insurance policy decreases when a child is added but the trip cost remains constant.
- Multi-trip annual plans are modestly priced and provide the option to add adventure sports and additional evacuation coverage.
- Adventure sports aren’t covered by the Patriot International travel medical insurance policies, but adventure sports coverage can be added by paying a 20% increase of base premium.
Purchase your policy here: IMG Global
Travel Insured International offers three plans for a single trip, although you can add multiple destinations to a single trip.
Normally, you won’t be covered for any loss (besides emergency medical evacuation or return-of-remains coverage) incurred because of a preexisting medical condition that existed within 60 days of the coverage effective date. However, the preexisting condition exclusion can be waived for the Worldwide Trip Protector and Worldwide Trip Protector Plus plans if you meet the following requirements:
- Your payment for the policy and enrollment form are received within 21 days of the date your initial payment or deposit for your trip is received.
- You insure all prepaid trip costs that are subject to cancellation penalties or restrictions and also insure within 21 days of the payment or deposit for those travel arrangements the cost of any subsequent travel arrangements (or any other travel arrangements not made through your travel agent) added to your trip.
- You are not disabled from travel at the time your premium is paid.
Adding a second adult to each of the three plans doubles the cost of the plan. Adding a child to the Worldwide Trip Protector plan doesn’t increase the price, but adding a child to the other two plans increases the price, based on the child’s trip cost.
- Travel Insured International’s Worldwide Trip Protector Plus policy allows you to cancel or interrupt your trip for any reason and provides rental car protection.
- Travel Insured International’s Worldwide Trip Protector Lite policy is the least expensive basic coverage plan in this guide for the sample trip to Australia, yet it still provides relatively comprehensive coverage.
Purchase your policy here: Travel Insured International
Travelex offers two single-trip plans: Travel Basic and Travel Select.
The two plans provide similar coverage, although Travel Basic offers less coverage in some areas and doesn’t include some types of coverage. For example, the following are offered with the Travel Select plan but not with the Travel Basic plan: sporting-equipment-delay coverage and the possibility of purchasing additional coverage that allows you to cancel for any reason. And the Travel Basic plan covers trips up to 30 days while the Travel Select plan covers trips up to 364 days.
Normally, you won’t be covered for any loss (excluding any condition from which death ensues) incurred because of a preexisting medical condition that existed within 60 days of the coverage effective date. However, both plans offer a preexisting condition exclusion waiver. To be eligible for this waiver with the Travel Select plan, all of the following conditions must be met:
- This plan is purchased within 21 days of initial trip payment.
- The amount of coverage purchased equals all prepaid nonrefundable payments or deposits applicable to the trip at the time of purchase and the costs of any subsequent arrangements added to the same trip are insured within 21 days of the date of payment or deposit for any subsequent trip arrangements.
- All insured individuals are medically able to travel when this plan cost is paid.
- The trip cost does not exceed the maximum trip cost limit under trip cancellation as shown in the schedule per person (only applicable to trip cancellation/interruption/ delay).
The Travel Basic plan has similar conditions that must be met, including that the plan is purchased within 15 days of the initial trip payment.
Adding a second adult to a plan doubles the cost if the trip cost is double. If you assume no extra trip cost, adding the second adult only slightly increases the cost (to $82 and $111 for my sample one-week trip). Children under 18 are included free of charge on the Travel Select plan, whereas on the Travel Basic plan each additional person added $21 to my one-week sample trip regardless of their age if we assume the same total trip cost.
- Travelex’s Travel Select policy can cover trips up to 364 days, which is longer than many single-trip policies. Plus, you can add-on additional types of coverage, such as cancel-for-any-reason coverage or adventure sports coverage.
- Both Travelex policies don’t require receipts for trip delay and baggage delay expenses less than $25.
- For Emergency Transportation Coverage, you or someone on your behalf must contact Travelex and Travelex must then make all transportation arrangements in advance. However, both Travelex policies provide an option if you aren’t able to contact Travelex: Travelex will pay up to what it would have paid if it had made the arrangements.
Purchase your policy here: Travelex Insurance
The Seven Corners website is more difficult to navigate than the other providers in this guide, and the policies seem to differ more from state to state. However, Seven Corners offers some interesting add-on options on some policies, including the option to purchase extra insurance for ski or golf trips. Most policies also offer the option to add coverage if you need to cancel for work reasons or if you need to cancel for any reason.
Here are the three policies that are most applicable to travelers on a single trip (RoundTrip Choice isn’t available to Florida residents):
Seven Corners also offers many other types of travel insurance, including a multi-trip annual plan. However, be aware that coverage on this annual plan limits you to trips of 30 or 45 days in length. The plan below only provides coverage outside your home country, but there are slightly more expensive policies that would also provide coverage in your home country.
Normally, you won’t be covered for any loss (excluding emergency medical evacuation or return-of-remains coverage) incurred because of a preexisting medical condition that existed within 60 days of the coverage effective date. However, both single-trip plans offer a preexisting condition exclusion waiver. To be eligible for this waiver with the RoundTrip Elite plan, all of the following conditions must be met:
- Your payment or deposit for this policy and enrollment form are received within 20 days of the date your initial payment or deposit for your trip is received.
- You insure all prepaid trip costs that are subject to cancellation penalties or restrictions and also insure within 20 days of the payment or deposit for those travel arrangements the cost of any subsequent travel arrangements (or any other travel arrangements not made through your travel agent) added to your trip.
- You are not disabled from travel at the time your premium is paid.
On a single trip plan, each person — adult or child — is charged the same amount if they have the same trip cost. On a multi-trip annual plan, a spouse can be added for half the cost of the primary adult. Children can be added to a multi-trip plan with two adults for no additional cost, or to a multi-trip plan with just one adult for $50 each.
- Seven Corners offers the ability to purchase additional ski and golf trip coverage on the Roundtrip Choice and Roundtrip Elite policies. If purchased, this extra insurance will refund your prepaid greens fees or lift tickets if you aren’t able to play at least nine holes of an 18-hole round due to weather or ski due to 50% or more of the trails being closed. Additionally, the extra insurance will refund rental costs if your checked sports equipment is lost, stolen, damaged or delayed 12 hours or longer.
- Seven Corners offers the ability to add cancel-for-work reasons or cancel-for-any-reason coverage on the Roundtrip Choice and Roundtrip Elite policies. Although cancel-for-any-reason coverage is offered by some other providers, cancel-for-work reasons-coverage is less common.
- Seven Corners’ RoundTrip Choice policy offers a political evacuation benefit that can be used to transport you to the nearest safe place or your residence under specific conditions.
- Seven Corners offers relatively inexpensive multi-trip coverage, especially for couples and families.
Purchase your policy here: Seven Corners
World Nomads is popular with younger, active travelers because of its flexible coverage and its adventure-activities coverage on the Explorer plan. Unlike many policies offered by other providers, you don’t need to estimate prepaid costs when purchasing the insurance to have access to trip interruption and cancellation insurance.
World Nomads offers two plans:
Unfortunately, CDW is not available for residents of three states (New York, Oregon and Texas).
You won’t be covered for any loss incurred because of a preexisting medical condition (except emergency evacuation and repatriation of remains) that existed within 90 days of the coverage effective date. Unlike many other providers, World Nomads doesn’t offer a waiver.
When you add a second adult to either policy, the price doubles. But if you add a child to either policy, the price increases about 3.5x. There are no additional costs after that to add other adults or children to the policy, but you can have no more than two adults and seven dependents on a policy.
- World Nomads policies cover more adventure sports than most providers, so activities such as bungee jumping are covered. Plus, the Explorer policy covers almost any adventure sport, including sky diving, stunt flying and caving. So, if you partake in adventure sports while traveling, the Explorer policy may be a good fit.
- World Nomads policies provide non-medical evacuation coverage for transportation expenses if there is civil or political unrest in the country in which you are visiting. The coverage will also transport you home if there is an eligible natural disaster or if you are expelled from a country.
Purchase your policy here: World Nomads
This guide details the policies of nine providers with the information available at the time of publication. But there are many options when it comes to travel insurance. If you want to quickly compare different policies, you can search on aggregators such as InsureMyTrip or Squaremouth. Just note that these search engines won’t show every policy and you should still research the provided policies to ensure the coverage fits your trip and your needs.
Likewise, you can purchase a plan through various membership associations such as USAA, AAA or Costco. Each of the associations partners with a specific provider: USAA partners with Travel Insured International, AAA partners with Allianz and Costco partners with AIG Travel Guard. So if you are a member of any of these associations, you may want to compare the policies offered through the organization with other policies to get the best coverage for your trip.
Do I need travel insurance?
Whether to purchase travel insurance is a personal decision. If you use a credit card that provides travel insurance when you use it to purchase travel and have medical insurance that provides adequate coverage abroad, you may be covered enough on most trips to forgo purchasing travel insurance.
However, if your medical insurance won’t cover you at your destination and you can’t comfortably cover a large medical evacuation bill or last-minute flight home, you should consider purchasing travel insurance. If you travel frequently, it may be worth it to purchase a multi-trip annual policy.
Related reading: Why one TPG contributor buys travel insurance
What are the different types of travel insurance?
Baggage delay protection may provide reimbursement for essential items and clothing when a common carrier such as an airline fails to deliver your checked bag within a set time of your arrival at a destination. You can usually reimburse up to a particular amount, either per incident or per day.
Lost/damaged baggage protection may provide reimbursement to replace lost or damaged luggage as well as items that were contained within the luggage. However, note that there is usually a relatively low maximum benefit for valuables and electronics.
Trip delay reimbursement may provide reimbursement for necessary items, food, lodging and sometimes transport when you’re delayed for a substantial time while traveling on a common carrier such as an airline. This insurance can be especially useful when you’re delayed because of weather or other reasons for which the airline usually won’t provide compensation.
Trip cancellation and interruption protection can provide reimbursement if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip for a covered reason, such as a death in your family, jury duty or being quarantined. And you can purchase cancel for any reason insurance or cancel for work reasons insurance from some insurers.
Medical evacuation insurance can arrange and pay for medical evacuation if deemed necessary by the insurance provider and a medical professional. If you’re hiking, visiting a remote area or traveling in an area with sub-par medical facilities, this insurance can be particularly valuable.
Travel accident insurance may provide a payment to you or your beneficiary in the case of your death or dismemberment.
Emergency medical insurance may provide payment or reimburse you for payment if you must seek medical care while traveling. Some plans only cover emergency medical care, while some cover other types of medical care including dental. You may need to pay a deductible or copay with some plans.
Rental car coverage may provide a collision damage waiver when you rent a car. This waiver may provide reimbursement for collision damage or theft up to a set amount, and some policies also cover loss-of-use charges assessed by the rental company and towing charges to take the vehicle to the nearest qualified repair facility. You may need to decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver or similar provision in order to be covered.
How much does travel insurance cost?
The cost of travel insurance depends on various factors, including the provider, your trip cost, your destination, your age and how many travelers you want to insure. Select credit cards provide travel insurance simply as a benefit of purchasing travel on your card. But if you’re looking to purchase travel insurance, you can expect to pay between $41 and $170 for one traveler on a one-week trip costing $2,000. The best way to determine how much travel insurance will cost is to simply price out your trip with a few of the providers discussed in the guide.
Related reading: Is credit card travel insurance sufficient on its own?
When and how to get travel insurance
To get maximum trip cancellation insurance benefits and be covered by the pre-existing conditions waiver offered by select policies, you should ideally purchase travel insurance on the same day as your first trip expenses. However, many plans will still provide a pre-existing conditions waiver as long as you purchase your travel insurance within 14 or 15 days of your first trip expense or deposit. If you don’t need a pre-existing conditions waiver or trip cancellation insurance, you can purchase travel insurance once your departure date nears — although some providers won’t allow you to purchase a policy for a same-day departure.
The easiest way to purchase travel insurance is to price out a few policies with the providers described in this guide. Then you can complete your purchase online. You’ll usually be able to download your insurance card and the complete policy shortly after the purchase is complete.
Not all travel insurance policies and providers are equal. If you’ve decided to purchase travel insurance, be sure to choose one that’s appropriate for you and your trip. For example, if you plan to go skiing or rock climbing, make sure these activities aren’t excluded. Or if you’re doing two back-to-back trips during which you’ll be returning home for a short time in between, be sure the plan doesn’t terminate coverage at the end of your first trip. And if you’re looking to cover preexisting conditions, be sure to select a policy with a preexisting condition waiver — and purchase insurance within the required period.
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Featured photo by Sam Spicer/Getty Images of a tourist in Khao Sok National Park in Thailand.
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